Finding the right career path for you is only a matter of figuring out what kind of setting you will enjoy going to each morning to make a living. One great career path is that of a medical assistant.

A medical assistant performs administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of a physician or other healthcare practitioner. He or she may be responsible for either clinical or administrative tasks, or even a combination of the two.

Whether the person in this position performs only administrative tasks, only clinical tasks, or both often depends upon the size of the practice in which he or she works. In larger practices, people in this position tend to specialize in one specific area, while those in smaller practices can do just about everything.

In the year 2008, the United States had on record 484,000 employees who held the title of medical assistant. These individuals do not typically have any type of formal education or training requirements, although most have a high school diploma.

Most in this particular position will receive only on-the-job training while others complete a one to two year formal program. As stated, this position does not require any type of certification, but when applying for employment, a certification indicates that one is experienced and has received formal training.

This extra bit of training on their resume may lead to better employment opportunities and a higher pay rate. Certification is available from several different professional organizations across the country.

There are two types of educational programs available to aspiring assistants. Some schools offer a one-year certificate, or you may complete a two-year associate’s degree from an accredited school.

The coursework for this particular position will include healthcare terminology, math and science, first aid, healthcare billing, and more. One may also become certified in a specific healthcare specialty, such as obstetrics or podiatry.

After completing the program, individuals can sign up to take the certification exam to become certified. The course is offered three times per year by the American Association of Medical Assistants.

The certification licensure must be renewed every five years. Some employers do not require the certification, but certified assistants will typically have more job options than those who are not certified.

Some individuals choose to further their education in order to move into other healthcare careers. For example, some go on to become a nurse or pre-med students get certified just to get some basic experience in the field.

Those who prefer administrative duties may advance into other positions without going back to school, like becoming an office manager. On a typical day a medical assistant’s tasks might include answering phones and scheduling appointments, and recording information, such as healthcare histories, vital signs, and lab test results in records.

They prepare treatment rooms for patient examinations, interview patients and taking vital signs, and administer medications under a doctor’s supervision. They are also responsible for cleaning and sterilizing instruments, disposing of contaminated supplies, and collecting laboratory specimens, including blood and tissue.

Most people in this position will work about 40 hours a week, five days a week. This, of course, is dependent on the office they work in and what their operating hours are.

Because of the nature of the position, this person should be polite and pleasant and have good communication skills. Medical assisting is the most versatile of the allied healthcare professions because they are trained in both clinical tasks, which involve patient care and administrative tasks.

Certified assistants are qualified to work in most medical offices, so there are many options for employment. Individuals in this position are not limited to a particular healthcare specialty.

Becoming an assistant is a relatively easy process compared to some of the other allied roles. This means that it would be a great way to determine if you would want to become a nurse or a doctor and continue your training further.

On the other side of the coin, this career is not the most lucrative of the allied healthcare professions. In addition, you are somewhat limited in terms of climbing up the ladder unless you are willing to get more education.

Tommy Greene is a certified CNA and has worked in health care for the past 15 years. He has great advice on CNA Training Utah and what it takes to jump start your career.
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